Jordan Henderson hopes Liverpool will still be in the hunt for major silverware when Virgil van Dijk returns from “however many months” a knee injury is going to keep him sidelined for.
A talismanic part of the Reds’ plans is about to undergo surgery after suffering cruciate ligament damage.
A reckless challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during an eventful Merseyside derby has left Van Dijk facing up to a lengthy spell on the treatment table.
He will be a big miss for Jurgen Klopp, with many already suggesting that the reigning Premier League champions will struggle to compete on multiple fronts without their Dutch centre-half.
Henderson is confident that the Reds can counter that loss, and that Van Dijk will come back even stronger, with everyone at Anfield pulling in the same direction as they seek to overcome adversity.
The Liverpool captain told the club’s official website: “It’s a tough one. It’s a big blow for us. For him personally, obviously. But for us as a team, a massive blow.
“I’m just gutted for him. So, it’s been a tough couple of days, I spoke to him yesterday. And it’s a difficult moment, but that’s when you need to be there for each other.
“I’ll be there as much as I possibly can for him, I’m sure the lads will do the same and his family certainly will, to help him through the journey he’ll go on.
“But I’m sure he’ll be back stronger. In the meantime we’ve got to do everything we can to help make us stronger and basically go and win as many games as we can for him, really.
“That’s down to us as players to make sure that when he is back and he is fit that we’re still fighting to be successful and fighting for trophies.
“You’ve got to use times like this to be stronger and to be even more together than we already are. And use it as a positive in some way – I know it sounds ridiculous at the moment, but that’s what you need to try to do. We need to try to look forward and try to help us in the next however many months Virgil will be out for.
“And also stick by him and be there for him whenever he needs us. But he’s a strong character, he’s strong mentally and he certainly will be back stronger and hopefully it’s not too long.”
While disappointed to have lost Van Dijk and dropped two points in a 2-2 draw with Everton at Goodison Park, Henderson believes there are plenty of positives for Klopp’s side to take from that outing as they prepare to open their 2020-21 Champions League campaign against Ajax on Wednesday.
He added: “I thought the performance was really good, especially the reaction from the previous game [a 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa]. We’re really happy about the performance level and the intensity that we showed.
“Goodison is never an easy place to go. I was really happy with the performance and we need to carry that on right the way through the season really.”